GRC (Governance, Risk, and Compliance) is an approach to enable organizations achieve their risk and compliance objectives. Though it is crucial to have an effective GRC initiative in place, managing it can be a tough ask. Organizations struggle with duplication of tasks and activity overlaps which invariably result in rising operational costs. Hence automation is vital to improve the effectiveness and maturity of organizational GRC.

Here are the three pillars which function in tandem for the successful functioning of GRC:

A. Governance

Ensure organizational activities are aligned to support business goals:

  • Culture
  • Objectives
  • Policies
  • Processes
  • Applicable legal and regulatory requirements
  • GRC Strategy

B. Risk

  • Likelihood and impact of challenges and impediments in achieving the objectives
  • Identify and overcome risks to support business goals

C. Compliance

  • Demonstrate adherence to external laws & regulations, corporate policies, and procedures
  • Align operations to meet rules and regulations
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Key GRC Drivers

  • Evolving risks: To identify, manage, track and report on enterprise wide information security, operational and financial risks.
  • Increasing compliance requirements: Organizations being subject to increasing compliance requirements originating from multiple industry standards and regulations.
  • Siloed GRC initiatives: Many organizations appoint different teams and roles to drive and implement information security governance risk and compliance initiatives, and the coordination and correlation between the initiatives are poorly managed or have lapses leading to inefficiency; creating a need for centralized GRC management.
  • Inefficient GRC operations: The need to reduce costs by effectively standardizing, operating and managing information security governance, risk, and compliance initiatives and processes.

Challenges in GRC Implementation

Some of the challenges in GRC implementation include:

Cost

Automating a comprehensive GRC framework involves substantial investments. Apart from initial costs, such as software, hardware, and implementation services, there are other costs which include training, customization, maintenance, upgrades, security, and operations. Since internal and external GRC drivers are evolving continuously, there can be an expansion of scope and increase in costs.

Culture Shift

A cultural shift is critical to ensure the success of any GRC automation initiative. There are instances where even after GRC automation implementation end users continue to work in MS Excel and follow manual processes, defying the purpose of automation. This is due to the failure of the management to understand stakeholder expectations - since they are the users and beneficiaries of automation.

Inadequate Planning of GRC Implementation

Though organizations end up buying all the hardware and necessary licenses, they often struggle with where to start. Ad-hoc GRC automation can lead to ineffective output, increase in workloads and can defeat the purpose of automation. Also, bad design and configuration of integrations and workflows can lead to increase in operational costs. It is strongly recommended to analyze the status quo of existing GRC implementations and maturity before considering GRC automation.

 

GRC Automation Benefits

  • Centralization: Single point solution to automate, manage, track and report on multiple governance, risk and compliance initiatives.
  • Visibility into enterprise wide risks: Ability to view information security, operational or financial risks via drill down reports at various organizational levels such as at an entity, business line, department, location, facility or specific asset level.
  • Multi-Standard/Regulatory compliance: Single repository of requirements and controls from various information security standards and regulations along with the capability to automate and report on compliance assessments. Automated workflows configured based on maker-checker principles and avoid compliance management using MS Excel.
  • Correlation: Modules and use cases for multiple information security areas such as policy, risk, compliance, audit, threat, vulnerability and security operations management allow automation and correlation across areas in a single solution.
  • Standardization and Operational Effectiveness: Reduce complexity, delay, errors, and standardize governance, risk, compliance and security processes by utilizing GRC technology solution automation capabilities such as role based access, workflows, alerts and notifications.
  • Customization and Reporting: Modules and use cases can be customized to the organization’s specific business requirements and environment. Standard out of the box report views and support for configuring and generating customized reports.

 

Implementation Strategies

Knowing the requirements

Involve business, IT, information security, and other key stakeholders to drive requirements analysis. This exercise is needed to reduce multiple iterations and reduce project workloads.

Top-down approach

Like any other project, GRC automation should be management driven, and regular management meetings must be encouraged to ensure stakeholder involvement and timely issue resolution.

Data migration

The major challenge in GRC automation is data migration. Data exists with different stakeholders, and there is no single source of truth. You can avoid this challenge by identifying and collating data requirements at the beginning for a smooth transition.

Phased rollout

Plan the automation in phases by identifying the interdependencies; this will enable users to have a thorough understanding of the solution. Glitches can be resolved and avoided in future rollouts.

Well defined processes

Before considering automation, ensure processes are well defined, mature, and documented. If not, this can lead to an improper configuration and can affect operations and increase workloads.

User training manuals

Ensure the availability of detailed user training manuals with clear use cases. This can enable in optimal use of the GRC tool.

 

Conclusion

GRC is of strategic importance and an essential regulatory need. It can strengthen organizational resilience to threats and enhance risk management capabilities. An intelligent GRC solution can monitor risks continuously, predict threats, and ensure timely remediation of issues to enable accountability at all levels of the organization. GRC can also help in aligning various risk management functions by standardizing processes and enhancing ways risk is managed and mitigated.